Archive for March, 2009

Northern Sun D2 College Baseball Poll – 3/31/09

Northern Sun D2 Poll1

Each week, the Northern Sun Baseball Blog combines the 3 primary Division 2 College Baseball Poll’s into 1 composite ranking.

For the 2nd week in a row, Grand Valley State is the #1 team in our poll.  This week they maintained that position even though they are ranked #1 in only 1 of the 3 polls.  In fact, the top 4 teams all stayed in their same spots. 

We continue to see continuity at the top of the polls and some wide divergence toward the middle and bottom.  That said, there are 21 teams in our Top 30 that were in the Top 30 of all 3 polls while last week there were only agreements on 19.

The biggest gainer included California State – Stanislaus which moved from out of the Top 30 into the #21 position and Texas – Permian Basin which moved from #29 up to #18. 

The Northern Sun Conference is represented this week as Wayne State (NE) makes an appearance at #26.  This is the first time Wayne State has appeared in this composite poll.  St. Cloud State did receive votes but not enough to crack the Top 30.

California State – Los Angeles dropped from #13 all the way out of the Top 30.  Others dropping out this week included North Alabama, Southern Indiana, Central Missouri, Henderson Stat and Colorado State – Pueblo.

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CBN – College Baseball News; Ping – Ping!Baseball; NCBWA – National College Baseball Writers Association; NSB Rank – Northern Sun Baseball Composite Poll; Comb Pts – Combined points in the composite rankings; LW – Last week’s composite ranking

College Baseball News Poll

Ping!Baseball Poll

NCBWA Poll

Northern Sun Players of the Week – 3/30/09

Players Of The Week

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference has named their Players of the Week for the 8th time this season.  They are –

Joe Wendte, a junior from S. Sioux City (NE), won the award for Player of the Week.  In 6 games for Wayne State, Wendte was 10 for 21 including 4 doubles, one home run, 10 runs scored and 9 RBI’s.  He had at least 1 hit in all 6 games in helping to lead the Wildcats to a 5-1 record on the week.  Wendte is the 2nd player this season to be named as an award winner 2 times (Tony Mueller of Winona State was the 1st) and the first to win Player of the Week twice.

David Deminsky, a junior from Sartell (MN), was named Pitcher of the Week.  The left hander had a perfect game going against Wisconsin Superior on Sunday until the 5th inning when he gave up an infield single.  He pitched 5 innings, struck out 6 and faced the minimum number of batters (15) while moving his record to 5-0 on the season.  As reported on this blog this past Friday, Deminsky was 2nd in all of Division 2 college baseball for strikeouts per 9 innings worked (Friday Update). 

NSIC Week 8 Press Release

NCBWA Regional Poll – 3/30/09

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The National College Baseball Writers Association has released their Regional Poll for the week ending March 29th.  At the end of the regular season these are the teams that will be competing for 6 spots in the NCAA Regional Tournament.  Both the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament Champion and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament Champion will earn automatic bids with the remaining 4 spots nominated as at-large bids.

Mesa State continues to maintain a solid hold on the top of the poll, garnering all 8 first place votes.  The Mavericks had another solid week as they swept the #2 team in last week’s poll, Colorado State – Pueblo, in 4 straight games over the weekend.  At this point you have to assume that Mesa will get an at-large bid even if they fail to win the RMAC Tourney as they are considered a top 5 team in the country.

Wayne State moved up to the #2 spot with the Pueblo losses.  Northern Sun teams hold down 4 of the top 6 positions with Southwest Minnesota State tied for #3 and Minnesota State & St. Cloud State tied with each other at #5.  This will definitely be a big week for Concordia as they face off against Wayne State and a chance to show that they belong in the top 6.  NCBWA Regional Polls

NCAA Division 2 Baseball Rankings – 3/30/09

NCAA Baseball Logo

The College Baseball News and Ping!Baseball Division 2 college baseball rankings have been released for this week. 

  • The College Baseball News poll has moved Florida Southern from a tie for first place last week to sole position of the #1 position this week.  The Moccasin’s had a good week by taking 2 from Southern Connecticut and 3 games from Saint Leo.  They’ve now won 9 straight games and 19 of their last 20.  Last week’s other #1 team, Grand Valley State, dropped to the #2 position.  Interestingly, 1 of the Lakers 3 losses on the season came at the hands of Northern Sun Conference leader, Minnesota State.  Another Conference team, Wayne State, moved from a tie for #29 to sole position of the #28 spot with a 5-1 week.  Concordia and St. Cloud State also received votes this week.  College Baseball News Rankings
  • Ping!Baseball continued to rank Southern Arkansas as the #1 team in D2 baseball for the 5th straight week.  The Muleriders had a successful 4-0 week with a win over North Alabama and a 3 game sweep of Arkansas – Monticello.  Rollins College jumped all the way from out of the rankings to the #18 position.  This was powered by a victory of nationally ranked Ohio State out of the Big Ten (Division 1).  This was their 4th win over a D1 program this year.  Another team jumping into the poll for the first time was Northern Sun’s St. Cloud State who makes an appearance at #28.  Ping!Baseball Rankings

NSIC College Baseball Weekend Wrap – 3/30/09

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Of the 6 weekend series scheduled for this weekend in NSIC college baseball, only 4 got played (and 1 of those didn’t get to play all 4 games).  With a winter storm moving into North/South Dakota and Minnesota this week it is likely we’ll see additional problems with the schedule for this coming week.

  • Minnesota State swept Upper Iowa to improve their winning streak to 10 games and their conference record to 8-0.  The Mavericks needed extra innings to win both games on Sunday as they won 3-2 in 8 innings and then 5-4 in 9 innings to seal the sweep.  The final winning run was scored as Jay Bresnahan singled to start the inning and Ben Kincaid then laid down a sacrifice bunt.  Instead of throwing the ball to first base, the ball ended up down the right field line which allowed Bresnahan to come around with the winning score.  Minnesota State plays at Southwest Minnesota State next weekend while Upper Iowa hosts Minnesota Crookston.  Mavericks Grind Out Wins Over Peacocks
  • The other team at the top of the Conference with an 8-0 record is Wayne State who pounded Minnesota Duluth all weekend to gain a relatively easy sweep.  For the weekend, the Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 42-16.  Wayne’s offensive star of the series was sophomore first baseman, Treye Hacker (Sioux City, IA).  In 3 games played, Hacker was 7-11 with 7 RBI’s and had a homer, triple and double.  Duluth’s losing streak has now reached 12 games (a team record).  Next weekend, Concordia is scheduled to play at Wayne State and Minnesota Duluth travels to play St. Cloud State.  Wayne State Completes Sweep of Duluth
  • Winona State had a perfect start to their conference season as they swept Minnesota Crookston.  Although the overall run total (40-12) looks quite lopsided, the Warriors scored the majority of their runs in late innings as 21 of their 40 runs were tallies in either the 6th or 7th inning.  These runs broke open what had been tight contests in 3 of the games.  Winona’s Ross Hellenbrand moved to 5-0 in game 1 of the series with a 6 inning, 5 hit, 1 run outing.  He was also the offensive star in game 4 going 3-4 with a home run and 2 RBI’s.  Crookston actually had just as many hits as Winona on Sunday but a combination of 11 walks, 4 hit batters and 5 errors on the day were too much to overcome.  Next weekend, Winona hosts Bemidji State and Crookston travels to Upper Iowa.  Warriors Complete 4 Game Sweep
  • Augustana came back from a 3-2 loss on Saturday at the hands of Bemidji State to sweep the Sunday doubleheader and claim a 2-1 series win.  The 4th game of the series was not able to be played and will not be made up.  The Augies have now won back to back series and move to 5-2 in Conference play.  The Vikings won the final contest by scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning to win 7-6.  The final blow in that inning came from JaColby Anderson who hit a home run, his 2nd of the series.  Bemidji’s lone series win came on Saturday as starting pitcher, Brent Vollbrecht, pitched a complete game giving up only 4 hits and 2 runs while striking out 5.  Augustana is the lone conference team not playing next weekend and instead will play a non-conference series at Northwest Missouri State while the Beavers play at Winona State.  Augies Win Pair of Close Games
  • St. Cloud State’s weekend conference series against the University of Mary was postponed so the Huskies hastily scheduled a doubleheader against D3 Wisconsin – Superior.  St. Cloud easily swept Superior with first game starting pitcher David Deminsky taking a perfect game into the 5th inning.  St. Cloud hosts Minnesota Duluth next weekend and Mary is scheduled to play at Northern State.  Huskies Top Superior 9-0 & 12-3
  • Finally, Southwest Minnesota State was scheduled to play at Northern State this weekend.  At some point the games were moved to Marshall because of poor field conditions in Aberdeen, SD.  It was then decided that Marshall’s field conditions were also too poor to play and the teams couldn’t find a suitable alternative.  Therefore, the games were cancelled.  This may prove to be a big detriment to the Mustangs conference record as they were expected to sweep the Wolves.  SMSU has a much tougher opponent next weekend in Minnesota State while Northern hosts Mary.  SMSU Baseball Cancelled 

NCAA Championship Success for NSIC Teams

NSIC Gif

While this blog is dedicated to college baseball in the Northern Sun Conference, it is a great day to celebrate the success of Northern Sun teams in other sports as well.

Yesterday, the Minnesota State Maverick’s Women’s Basketball team won the NCAA Division 2 basketball national championship.  Heather Johnson led the way as she scored 29 points to lead the team to a 103-94 victory in San Antonio, TX.  The Maverick’s finished the season at 32-2 and won their first school championship of any kind since 1988 when the men’s cross country team won a title.  Stories about their win can be found here –

School Website – Minnesota State Claims National Championship

ESPN – Johnson’s 29 Fuel Mavericks’ Victory

Mankato Free Press – Maverick’s Win National Title

 

This title is the 3rd national championship to be won by Northern Sun teams this year.  In the fall, Minnesota Duluth had a perfect 15-0 season leading to the NCAA Division 2 football championship – Simply The Best.   In addition, the Concordia Golden Bears NCAA D2 women’s volleyball team (38-1) won their 2nd consecutive national championship – 2008 Concordia Volleyball.  Last year, Minnesota Duluth won the 2008 NCAA Division 1 national championship in women’s hockey for the 4th time in the 8 years of the the championship’s history.

 

Not only was yesterday a huge day for Minnesota State but the title hopes of another Northern Sun school were kept alive by a miraculous comeback.  In the NCAA Division 1 hockey tournament, Minnesota Duluth faced off against Princeton.  The Bulldogs were down 4-2 with less than 40 seconds to go in regulation.  They ended up tying the score in a wild finish with .8 seconds on the clock and went on to win in OT to keep their national title hopes alive.  This ended up as the #5 play in ESPN’s top plays.  Here’s the last minute of regulation –

 

 

It should be noted the Minnesota Duluth’s hockey teams are not a part of the NSIC (they are in the WCHA) but the vast majority of their teams do play in the NSIC.

Northern Sun Weekend College Baseball Preview

Weekend Preview

The second weekend of NSIC contests kicks off this D2 college baseball season with 5 series scheduled.  There were originally planned to have a sixth series but the University of Mary is dealing with flooding in Bismarck, ND and postponed their series with St. Cloud State.

Here are your weekend match-ups:

Upper Iowa Minnesota State

Upper Iowa @ Minnesota State – in Mankato, MN – Sat/Sun

2008 Series Results – Minnesota State beat Upper Iowa 3 games to 1

All-time Results – Minnesota State holds a 10-4 advantage

Preview – Minnesota State Set to Battle Upper Iowa

Prediction – Minnesota State 3-1

 

Winona StateCrookston Golden Eagles

 Winona State @ Minnesota Crookston – in Winona, MN – Sat/Sun

(games were moved from Crookston to Winona)

2008 Series Results – Winona State beat Crookston 4-0 outscoring them 65-7

Preview – Golden Eagles Preview Article

Winona Daily News- Freshman Mueller Off To Fast Start

Prediction – Winona State 4-0

 

Wayne State1 Minnesota Duluth

Wayne State @ Minnesota Duluth – in Wayne, NE – Sat/Sun

(games moved from Duluth to Wayne)

2008 Series Results – Didn’t play each other

All-time Results – Wayne State leads 11-7 (last meeting 2004)

Preview – Wayne State Baseball Media Release

Prediction – Wayne State 3-1

 

Bemidji State Beaversaugustana

Bemidji State @ Augustana – in Sioux Falls, SD – Sat/Sun

2008 Series Results – Bemidji State won series 2-0

Preview – Augies Open NSIC Play Against Bemidji State

Prediction – Series Split 2-2

 

northern stateSW MN State

Southwest Minnesota State @ Northern State – in Marshall, MN – Sun/Mon

(games moved from Aberdeen to Marshall)

2008 Series Results – Teams split 2-2

All-time Results – SMSU leads 76-29

Preview – none

Prediction – Southwest Minnesota State 4-0

Big Friday Update – D2 Baseball Happenings

B&W Baseball

There are lots of updates to pass along today in the world of Division 2 college baseball and the Northern Sun Conference –

  • Yesterday I reported on the first release of NCAA Statistics and how each of the Northern Sun teams ranked in regards to all other D2 college baseball teams.  In addition to team rankings there are national rankings of individual players.  There are a number of Conference players that are ranked highly in comparison to all Division 2 athletes:
    • Tony Mueller of Winona State has been electric as both a hitter and pitcher.  The freshman from La Crosse, WI holds the following national rankings:
      • #2 in Batting Average (.574)
      • #16 in Triples/Game
      • #28 in Slugging %
      • #1 in On Base %
      • #123 in Earned Run Average
      • #28 in Hits Allowed per 9 innings pitched
    • Jay Bresnahan of Minnesota State is nationally ranked in many offensive stats:
      • #10 in Batting Average
      • #14 in Slugging %
      • #11 in On Base %
    • Joey Benke of St. Cloud State has been very good in many of the same categories:
      • #45 in Batting Average
      • #41 in Slugging %
      • #12 in On Base %
    • David Deminsky of St. Cloud State is #2 nationally in strikeouts/9 innings pitched

We did get to see some action played yesterday in the cold as Concordia and Minnesota Duluth got in a doubleheader in Minnetonka, MN.  This season has gone from bad to worse for the Bulldogs who dropped both games.  Concordia manhandled Duluth by scores of 12-7 & 12-1.  Two Dozen Runs Power CU Sweep of UMD

  • Duluth pitchers surrendered 24 runs, 15 walks, 3 hit batters and 8 doubles in 12 innings pitched.  Their Team ERA went from a worst in conference 9.63 to 10.63.  They are on pace to shatter the team record for worst season ERA of 8.20 which was set in 2006.
  • The Bulldogs have now lost 8 straight games which ties the team record for consecutive losses.  The losing streak kicked off with a historic 34-1 loss to SMSU which set numerous records on both sides.  They next play a 4 game series against Wayne State this weekend which doesn’t help their efforts to avoid setting a new mark for futility.
  • The Cole Hytjan HBP watch is on.  The senior pitcher hit 2 more batters yesterday and is now just 1 hit batter away from tying the all-time Duluth season record for hit batters in a season (10).

The weather and now flooding continue to wreak havoc with scheduled games.  The following changes to schedules have already been announced for this weekend:

  • Speaking of Duluth – their weekend series against Wayne State has been moved from Duluth to Nebraska.  Not too surprising – maybe the Conference should reconsider their scheduling process and let northern teams play more Conference home games later in the season?  Wayne State to Host Duluth
  • The weekend series between Northern State and SW Minnesota State has been moved from Aberdeen, SD to Marshall, MN.  SMSU-NSU Series Moved
  • St. Cloud State’s series against Mary has been postponed to a later date due to the floods.  In it’s place, the Huskies have added a pair of games this weekend against Wisconsin – Superior.  SCSU-Mary Games Postponed
  • Minnesota Crookston was forced to move their scheduled weekend series from Crookston to Winona State’s home field.  Golden Eagles Games Switched

In other news, the St. Cloud State University Chronicle published an interesting story about 2 of the Huskies starting pitchers, David Deminsky and Tim Scott, and how they went from summer league opponents to teammates this year.  Opponents to Teammates – SCSU’s Undefeated Starting Staff

D2 College Baseball – NSIC Stat Comparison

NCAA Baseball Logo

This week the NCAA started publishing statistics for all Division 2 college baseball programs so we can start comparing how teams in the Northern Sun Conference compare to other programs nationally.  NCAA Statistics Site

There were 213 teams that are included in this week’s comparison’s as some teams haven’t fully reported their statistics.  One of the schools not included was the Northern Sun’s Southwest Minnesota State.  The statistics included were for games through 3/22/09.

Here is the national ranking for how each Northern Sun team compares when slotted against 213 other D2 programs –

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Team BA = Team Batting Average, Slug % = Team Slugging %, K’s/9 = Strikeouts per 9 innings played, SB/Game = Stolen Bases per game, Field % = Team Fielding %

Some things we can gather from this analysis –

  • First of all, it’s still hard to get a fully accurate picture as strength of schedule is not factored into the numbers
  • St. Cloud State seems to be dominating the Conference with strong batting, slugging, ERA, fielding and the #1 strikeout ratio in the country
  • Minnesota Duluth has had strong hitting and terrible pitching to date.  Their team ERA is now at 9.63 (hard to believe there are 8 programs worse).
  • Winona State has a team batting average that’s quite good but they hit a ton of singles.  Their slugging % shows that they aren’t hitting for extra bas hits hardly at all.
  • 9 of the 12 teams rank higher in Team BA than they do in Team ERA
  • There are quite a few teams in the Conference that don’t strike a lot of batters out compared with their peers
  • Most of the teams are in the middle for Stolen Bases – not much at either end of the spectrum
  • Wayne State is surprising in that they are middle of the pack in most stats and near the bottom of D2 in fielding and are yet a Conference favorite.  I do think their tougher schedule is a primary reason.

Northern Sun College Baseball Midweek – 3/26/09

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The Northern Sun Conference’s college baseball teams are facing renewed issues with weather.  The Division 2 teams have had numerous games cancelled and moved this week as we’ve gone from April like weather to early March temperatures in a week.

There is a full slate of Conference games scheduled for this weekend and while there isn’t precipitation in the forecast it’s going to be pretty darn cold out there playing games –

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(Minneapolis Forecast)

In games this week we’ve had the following results:

  • Augustana has had to cancel 2 different contests this week, first on Monday against Jamestown and again yesterday against Minnesota Crookston
  • Southwest Minnesota State cancelled yesterday’s planned doubleheader against Dakota Wesleyan
  • Wayne State delayed their pair of games from Tuesday to Wednesday but did get to play yesterday.  In their first matchup, the Wildcats played against Washburn in Topeka, KS and came away with a 10-8 victory.  They were paced by the long ball as Joe Wendte had a grand slam and Justin Hemauer had a 3 run homer.  Sam Rathbun got the win in relief by pitching 4 innings of 2 hit, no run baseball after coach John Manganaro was forced to go to his bullpen early.  The win was Wayne State’s 9th in a row.  Wildcats Win 9th Straight
  • That win streak was in jeopardy in the 2nd game of the day as Wayne State played the #3 team in the country, Emporia State (a team with an 22-4 all-time record against Wayne).  Although Wayne State seemed to get a lot of runners on base, they weren’t able to score until a solo home run by Seth Chadwick in the ninth inning and lost 7-1.  For the game, the Wildcats stranded 14 runners and continued their poor fielding.  In the 2 games played yesterday, Wayne State committed 5 errors which leaves them near the very bottom of the Conference in fielding.  #3 Emporia Hands Wayne State Setback
  • Upper Iowa played a doubleheader against Lewis University and lost both games in close contests.  The Peacocks led the first game 9-7 entering the 7th inning but managed a 14-13 loss.  They played extra innings in game 2 before losing 5-2 in 8 innings.  The good news, Upper Iowa had 22 hits and 6 homers on the day (paced by 5 hits/1 homer from Tom Longoni).  The bad news, they had 7 errors which led to 8 unearned runs.  As a point of comparison, just 11 days ago this same Lewis team played 3 games against Winona State, a team that some might consider similar to Upper Iowa.  In those 3 games Lewis scored only 3 runs while they scored 19 in the 2 games against the Peacocks.  Flyers Sweep Peacocks
  • Concordia’s planned non-Conference doubleheader against Minnesota Duluth was moved to today and continues to be scheduled to be played at Minnetonka (MN) High School CU-UMD Games Moved To Thursday

Northern Sun D2 College Baseball Poll – 3/24/09

Northern Sun D2 Poll1

There’s a new #1 Division 2 College Baseball team according to this week’s Northern Sun College Baseball D2 Composite Poll.

Grand Valley State has overtaken Southern Arkansas for the #1 spot in this week’s ranking taking over from the Muleriders who had led for the past 3 weeks.  Grand Valley State becomes just the 2nd team to ever be in the #1 position on the NSB poll which began in 2009 by combining the 3 major Division 2 college baseball polls into 1 composite ranking.

We are finally starting to see a little more stability in the rankings of the top 8 or so teams.  Previous weeks had seen wide variances in the opinions of the 3 polls.  That said, there is still a lot of differences once you get past the top 8. 

The Northern Sun Conference had 2 teams receive votes this week.  Wayne State received a Top 30 ranking in 2 of the 3 polls but not enough votes to crack the combined NSB Top 30.  St. Cloud State also received votes in the NSBWA Top 30.

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Others Receiving Votes –

UMass – Lowell 12, Cal. St. Stanislaus 11, Columbus State 10, Cameron 9, Wayne State (NE) 9, Ouachita Baptist 9, Pfeiffer 7, Valdosta State 5, Hawaii Pacific 5, California (PA) 3, St. Cloud State 2, Francis Marion 2, Indianapolis 2

CBN – College Baseball News; Ping – Ping!Baseball; NCBWA – National College Baseball Writers Association; NSB Rank – Northern Sun Baseball Composite Poll; Comb Pts – Combined points in the composite rankings; LW – Last week’s composite ranking

Tracking Top Minnesota H.S. 2008 Baseball Players

MSHSL Baseball_08

Minnesota high schools had a bumper crop of excellent baseball players that graduated in 2008 and I thought I’d look to see how some of the best are faring now in college. 

  • Madison Boer was a 2008 graduate of Eden Prairie (MN) High School where he had much success and was named a first team all-state pitcher.  He went on to help reestablish baseball at Oregon University who was re-instating their baseball program after a 28 year break in playing.  The big right hander (6-4, 220) has quickly established himself as one of the Ducks 4 starting pitchers.  He is 1-3 on the season but sports a respectable 3.81 ERA.  He has the lowest batting average against him (.228) of any of their starters and holds the only 2 complete games thrown by Oregon pitchers all year.  Boer Gets First Collegiate Win
  • Joe Loftus headed to play for a premier Division 1 program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN which plays in college baseball toughest conference (the SEC).  The 2008 graduate of the Academy of Holy Angels was a 2 time, first team all-state selection.  Midway through their non-conference schedule, Loftus has earned a spot as the starting left fielder.  While he’s only hitting .240 on the season it’s pretty impressive to be starting as a freshman in the SEC.  Loftus Contributes to Win Over Kentucky
  • Jacob Esch is playing for Georgia Tech of the ACC – a team that’s currently rated as the #3 overall team in Division 1 college baseball.  As a pitcher/shortstop at Cretin-Derham Hall he helped lead the Raiders to a state title and was named a 2 time all-state selection.  He had an injury this fall which delayed his development but the right handed pitcher has gotten in a few games as a relief pitcher for the Yellow Jackets.  Jackets Down Mercer
  • The 2008 Player of the Year in Minnesota was Brad Hand of Chaska, MN.  The left handed pitcher was dominating in high school and while he had a college scholarship to a premier Division 1 program (Arizona State) he turned that down and turned pro after being drafted in the 2nd round by the Florida Marlins.  He had turned pro in time to start the summer of 2008 at the Marlins rookie league team where he went 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA before being promoted to a Class A team in New York where he was 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA.  Brad Hand Minor League Stats  He seems to have a bright future in baseball as John Sickels (who is a main writer for Baseball America) named Hand the 16th best prospect in the entire Florida Marlins farm system.  Sickels (a Twins fan) had this to say about Hand “Young projectable lefty from Minnesota, I wish the Twins had been able to draft him. Will need time but a fresh high school arm worth tracking.”  Florida Marlins Top 20 Prospects for 2009

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